BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – During a worldwide pandemic is not exactly the ideal time to enter the workforce for graduating students. But that is exactly what the Class of 2020 was forced to do. That includes students from Vermont Technical College.
“I did everything I could online. I put my resume out everywhere,” said Caroline Prefontaine of Burlington.
Prefontaine graduated from Vermont Tech in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in information technology. At that time, the pandemic was already well underway.
“I actually wasn’t that anxious because I was working at the co-op creamery in St. Albans. I knew I was actually going to have a job. I just didn’t know how long it would take for me to get a job in my field during the pandemic,” she said.
In August, she landed a job at the service desk at Dartmouth College.
Prefontaine is among the 99% of Vermont Tech graduates in the Class of 2020 who found jobs within six months of graduation.
Patricia Moulton, the president of Vermont Tech, said, “It’s because our graduates are in big demand.”
Even in a pandemic.
Along with IT jobs, educators say engineering, manufacturing, construction management, agriculture and health care industries all continue to hire. Vermont Tech partners with employers in those fields and tailors its courses to them.
“That is really what we do at Vermont Tech, we make Vermont work,” Moulton said. “We provide the workers that enable the economy to really crank along.”
But challenges lie ahead. One of the biggest hurdles continues to be the lack of trained workers in any given field.
“Employers love our graduates, they just complain there are not enough of them,” Moulton said. “And that is where we have got to start opening up for nontraditional students and try to be more affordable for out-of-state students.”
Prefontaine was one of them. She now works from home most days, similar to the way she finished up her college career.
“VTC allows you to build those skills and then when you get into the workplace, you can immediately apply those skills,” she said.
Enrollment at Vermont Tech dropped nearly 20% for this academic year. College officials say that has had a significant impact on the school’s bottom line.
The entire Vermont State Colleges system says it needs help. They are looking to the Legislature to increase funding for higher education, an investment they say will ultimately help produce the workforce of tomorrow.
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